THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Amazing footage: How the hagfish repels predators...

GOT TEETH TOO: Research shows the hagfish is not just a scavenger, it is a predator too
The hagfish's scary protruding teeth could be enough to scare any predator away, but it's its sliminess that deters the sharks.

The hagfish - also known as the snot-eel - which can be found in New Zealand's deepest waters has proven to be one of the planet's ultimate survivors.

Graphic underwater footage from Massey University and Te Papa shows for the first time how the hagfish defends itself by emitting a choking, gill-clogging slime.

"Our video footage in New Zealand waters has proven that hagfish secrete slime at an incredibly fast speed when under attack by predators such as large sharks or bony fishes," Te Papa's Vincent Zintzen, lead scientist of the deep-sea animal diversity study, said.

In the video, various fish try to attack the hagfish off Three Kings and Great Barrier Islands as it feeds on bait attached to the camera.

But it releases a gooey mucus-like substance from its slime glands and up to 200 pores, causing predators to gag before retreating.

A paper published online in Scientific Reports describes the effectiveness of the "copious slime" in choking predators without apparently poisoning or killing them.

The study also discovered the hagfish was not only an ocean scavenger, but also a predator.
The footage reveals its bizarre method of burrowing into sand in pursuit of a red bandfish. It knots its tail for additional leverage as it grabs its hidden prey before unknotting and emerging from the sand.

Massey professor Marti Anderson, a marine biologist, who co-authored the study, said the video explains how the hagfish has endured successfully for around 300 million years.

Anatomically modern humans have been around for just 200,000 years by comparison, she said.
"We know so very little about the deep sea. Simply dropping cameras into the water at a range of depths in a systematic design not only gives us good quantitative data to model diversity and behaviour, it also has a high probability of finding something new."

"Using underwater video cameras, we can actually see fish in their own environment, which is far more informative than what can be learned from the often bedraggled specimens brought to the surface in research trawls."

Clive Roberts, co-author and curator of fishes at Te Papa, said the ecological role of the hagfish may be far more diverse than previously considered.
"Hagfish, which are quite abundant in the deep sea, were previously observed feeding on carcasses of dead whales, fishes and invertebrates. Our video footage now clearly shows that hagfish are also hunters able to prey on live fishes."

Since 2009, scientists have deployed cameras at depths ranging from 50 to 1500 metres around New Zealand. Over 1000 hours of footage has been collected off the Kermadec Islands, Three Kings Islands, Great Barrier Island, White Island and Kaikoura so far, with surveys to extend in 2012 to the sea off the Otago Peninsula and down as far as the Auckland Islands.

The research was funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund Grant, a Te Papa Collection Development Grant as well as support by the Ministry of Science and Innovation via NIWA and the University of Western Australia.

Acknowledgements:  -


Planet Green

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Worst food additive ever - its in half of all food...

leftovers of the production of Palm oilImage via WikipediaAfrican Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis)Image via WikipediaOil palm plantation on the slopes of Mt. CameroonImage via Wikipedia

On August 10, police and security for the massive palm oil corporation Wilmar International (of which Archer Daniels Midland is the second largest shareholder) stormed a small, indigenous village on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They came with bulldozers and guns, destroying up to 70 homes, evicting 82 families, and arresting 18 people. Then they blockaded the village, keeping the villagers in -- and journalists out. (Wilmar claims it has done no wrong.)

The village, Suku Anak Dalam, was home to an indigenous group that observes their own traditional system of land rights on their ancestral land and, thus, lacks official legal titles to the land. This is common among indigenous peoples around the world -- so common, in fact, that it is protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Indonesia, for the record, voted in favor of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. Yet the government routinely sells indigenous peoples' ancestral land to corporations. Often the land sold is Indonesia's lowland rainforest, a biologically rich area home to endangered species like the orangutan, Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran tiger, and the plant Rafflesia arnoldii, which produces the world's largest flower.

So why all this destruction? Chances are you'll find the answer in your pantry. Or your refrigerator, your bathroom, or even under your sink. The palm oil industry is one of the largest drivers of deforestation in Indonesia. Palm oil and palm kernel oil, almost unheard of a decade or two ago, are now unbelievably found in half of all packaged foods in the grocery store (as well as body care and cleaning supplies). These oils, traditional in West Africa, now come overwhelmingly from Indonesia and Malaysia. They cause jawdropping amounts of deforestation (and with it, carbon emissions) and human rights abuses.
"The recipe for palm oil expansion is cheap land, cheap labor, and a corrupt government, and unfortunately Indonesia fits that bill," says Ashley Schaeffer of Rainforest Action Network.

The African oil palm provides two different oils with different properties: palm oil and palm kernel oil. Palm oil is made from the fruit of the tree, and palm kernel oil comes from the seed, or "nut," inside the fruit. You can find it on ingredient lists under a number of names, including palmitate, palmate, sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphate, glyceryl stearate, or stearic acid. Palm oil even turns up in so-called "natural," "healthy," or even "cruelty-free" products, like Earth Balance (vegan margarine) or Newman-O's organic Oreo-like cookies. Palm oil is also used in "renewable" biofuels.

A hectare of land (2.47 acres) produces, on average, 3.7 metric tons of palm oil, 0.4 metric tons of palm kernel oil, and 0.6 tons of palm kernel cake. (Palm kernel cake is used as animal feed.) In 2009, Indonesia produced over 20.5 million metric tons, and Malaysia produced over 17.5 million metric tons. As of 2009, the U.S. was only the seventh largest importer of palm oil in the world, but as the second largest importer of palm kernel oil, it ranks third in the world as a driver of deforestation for palm oil plantations.

Indonesia has lost 46 percent of its forests since 1950, and the forests have recently disappeared at a rate of about 1.5 million hectares (an area larger than the state of Connecticut) per year. Of the 103.3 million hectares of remaining forests in 2000, only 88.2 million remained in 2009. At that time, an estimated 7.3 million hectares of oil palm plantations were already established, mostly on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Indonesia plans to continue the palm oil expansion, hoping to produce an additional 8.3 million metric tons by 2015 -- this means a 71 percent expansion in area devoted to palm oil in the coming years.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Supporting the Rainforest Action Network...

Help keep the Keystone XL Pipeline off my daughter’s land.
David Daniels and family
RAN’s standing by us, please stand by RAN.
Donate today
An open letter to my readers:

My wife and I bought 20 acres in East Texas a few years back. The property is full of 100-year-old trees, wildlife, wetlands and spring-fed creeks. Our intention from the beginning was to leave this land as a legacy to our daughter.

We never dreamed that we’d live to see any part of it destroyed—until TransCanada paid us a visit. Surveyors had driven scores of stakes right down the middle of our property, reading “XL PL 36in.”

My fight against the Keystone XL pipeline began right then and there. Thankfully Rainforest Action Network has been there to back me up.

Will you stand with me in my fight for this land, and for my daughter’s land, by making a donation to support RAN?

RAN’s Energy team organized the Stop The Pipeline Tour
so that other affected landowners and I could travel the proposed Keystone XL route to educate people about the leaks and spills that TransCanada is known for, to confront the company head on, and eventually to join the Tar Sands Action—the largest act of civil disobedience on climate in history—at the White House.

To put it bluntly—my fight is your fight. The Alberta tar sands project is a carbon bomb, and the Keystone XL is the 1700-mile long fuse. According to the EPA, the well-to-tank greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands crude would be approximately 82 percent higher than the average crude refined in the U.S. The world simply can not afford the tar sands.

RAN is doing whatever it takes to stop this carbon bomb—from direct actions to organizing mass protest to orchestrating media storms. I need your support to resist this pipeline and to fight for our clean energy future.

RAN played a major role at the Tar Sands Action this summer, and will be there on the ground again November 6—organizing, supporting and participating—as thousands encircle the White House to tell President Obama that he must say no to the Keystone XL.

Will you stand up for me and my daughter? Will you make a difference for the future of our climate?
Please support the smart, strategic work of Rainforest Action Network right now.

David Daniel
David Daniel
Founder, Stop Tarsands Oil Pipelines (STOP)


Rainforest Action Network
221 Pine Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104 USA
Phone: (415) 398-4404 Fax: (415) 398-2732


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Monday, October 17, 2011

No drill - No spill...

TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 12:  New Zeala...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

  • ‘Where has the oil gone?’ we asked ourselves. First it was coating the beaches, rocky shorelines, birds and seals then the rest in the sea disappeared. There was little official information we could get and media reports suggested it was heading south somewhere between Whakatane and Whangaparaoa Bay (where our flotilla opposing deep sea oil drilling set off earlier this year).

    Fortunately a friend emailed me that a hui was called at Te Kaha Marae for officials to inform and discuss a localised response.

    So while Greenpeace volunteers worked on Matakana Island to clear oil with hapu, a small team headed to Te Kaha. On the way there I saw with new eyes coastal areas most vulnerable to contamination as we travelled east and contemplated how everything could change by the end of this week if more oil chunders from Rena .

    This is what could change for the foreseeable future:
    • Quiet Sunday morning whitebaiters and waka ama practise in the Whakatane River.
    • Stunning Ohope and Okiwa estuaries fringed with marshlands of reeds that act as kidneys filtering between land and sea, which are home to endangered fernbirds and lanky bittern that will now be nesting. These estuarine plants are essential to the lifecycle of the many inanga/whitebait species which deposit their eggs on the plant’s wet feet. Toxic oil would change all that.
    • Seeing the mouth of the Waiotahi – like many river mouths, too rough for a boom to successfully keep oil at bay as massive volume of water surges in and out of the mouths.
    At Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty Regional Council officials told us that the oil had sunk and that nobody knew where it was, but it was possible degraded globs of oil would wash up if the currents and wind forced it south. This coastline is vast and sparsely populated. It will require local hapu and communities to organise daily searches after high tide for any oil and for that info to be passed on to the Regional Council 0800 OIL SPILL to receive help and the appropriate clean up gear (including skip bins to take it away).


    On our way through Opotiki we stopped at my favourite fish and chip shop. As I ate some delicious terakihi I realised that when Rena breaks up and oil spews out it will be some time before fish and shellfish is safe to eat again in the Bay of Plenty region.

    Local communities need to make preparations with this in mind – both in terms of the pantry (for Labour Weekend and Christmas) and also economically. I have a horrible feeling that those communities that will bare the brunt will be those who have fought hardest to keep deep sea oil drilling away. There was a message loud and clear next to a Marae: NO DRILL, NO SPILL.

    On Wednesday morning Te Whanau a Apanui skipper Elvis Teddy will be in the Tauranga District Court the same day as the captain of the Rena. One a hero, trying to prevent disaster, the other, a sea Captain that has caused a disaster which continues to unfold.

    Compliments: Greenpeace NZ


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Friday, October 14, 2011

Today a new Rainbow Warrior has set sail...

Today a new Rainbow Warrior has set sail...
GREENPEACE International

Dear friends,
Today a new Rainbow Warrior has set sail!

At a small ceremony we christened the Rainbow Warrior III - the world's first sailing vessel purpose-built for environmental campaigning. The new Warrior will be a voice for our oceans, our forests, our climate, and our future. She is built to last for at least 50 years, and she is a promise to you - our supporters - to never give in, never give up. Join us in watching the christening ceremony and learning more about the ship.

Meet the new Rainbow Warrior!

If you're one of the 100,000 donors who bought a bolt, an action boat, an anchor, a chart, a soap dish, a piece of her sail or the whole of her wheelhouse, thank you. If you're one of our 3 million regular annual donors, merci bien. If you're one of our 17 million email or mobile subscribers, Facebook fans or Twitter followers, gracias. If you're one of our 14,000 volunteers, danke schön.

Thank you for your continuing support and here's to setting sail for a green and peaceful future!

All of us,
Greenpeace International
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Green Halloween - Reduce Footprints...

Jack-o-laternImage via Wikipedia

A Green Halloween+


A Guest Post:

It's that time of year again ... when the veil between the living and the dead becomes thin and spirits can be seen walking the earth. Shadows come alive and threaten to grab us ... witches fly and ghosts materialize before our very eyes.

In other words ... it's almost Halloween and time for our annual "Spooky" post!

Question: What's the ratio of a pumpkin's circumference to its diameter?

Answer: Pumpkin Pi

It's almost Halloween ... that creepy night of ghosts and ghouls. Little goblins everywhere are getting ready. Can Moms and Dads make it green? Well sure!! Here are some tricks and treats ... I mean tips:

-Are you going to carve a pumpkin ... or decorate one?

  • If you haven't grown your own, buy one from a local farm or farmer's market.
  • Use every part of the pumpkin. The seeds can be toasted and eaten as snacks ... they are healthy and taste great. One can toast them in the oven or in a dry frying pan on the stove. When they are brown, carefully remove them (they are very hot at this stage) and immediately sprinkle your favorite seasoning on them (mine is creole seasoning but kids might prefer something less spicy ... like a little salt). Not in the mood for toasting seeds? Try tossing them, either wet or dry, into the yard for birds ... they love them.
  • Use the flesh of the pumpkin to make a pie, soup, cookies or flan ... it might require a bit more sugar than the smaller, pie pumpkins.
  • After Halloween ... compost the shell instead of sending it to the landfill.

Question: How do you mend a broken Jack-O-Lantern?

Answer: With a pumpkin patch

-Are you planning a party for your little ones?
  • Send email invitations rather than the "snail mail" variety. There are a lot of seriously spooky e-cards on the Internet.
  • Use re-usable plates, cups, utensils, napkins and tablecloths. Paper party goods can be expensive and just add more clutter to our nation's landfills.
  • Serve some healthy, fun treats that aren't individually wrapped ... popcorn, apples, fruit leather (in the shape of worms and snakes) and ghostly cookie skeletons.
-Get creative with costumes.
  • Make costumes from old clothes (downsize adult suits, dresses, etc.)
  • Check your closets for "retro" clothing (got any old "hippie" duds? Cool, dude!).
  • Pull out costume jewelry ... little princesses, gypsies and pirates love "bling".
  • Hats of any kind can "top off" an outfit.
  • Shop at Goodwill ... they have not only organized merchandise into a special Halloween section but also offer some creative costumes ideas made from second-hand garb.
These are just a few ideas. I'm sure that with a little thought ... you can conjure up a few of your own.

OK ... one more ... then I'll stop ... I promise!

Question: What is a pumpkin's favorite sport?

Answer: Squash
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rena oil spill potentially NZ's worst environental disaster...

The Container ship Rena inexplicably crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about seven kilometres north of Motiti Island, near Tauranga early on Wednesday. It is carrying 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, some of which has already started to leak into the sea.

Since then, fears of a potential environment disaster have grown as the leaking oil has spread threatening wildlife, including whales, birds and seals. Indeed, Environment Minister Nick Smith was quoted as saying that the spill from the ship "had the potential to be New Zealand's most significant maritime pollution disaster in decades”. This is very disturbing news.

Oiled seabirds have already been found dead close to the Rena and more birds have been spotted in the water, covered in oil. It is also potentially disastrous for the blue whales and dolphins presently calving in the area, as well as numerous other marine species.

Response teams have so far been unable to deploy oil booms to contain the spill. The response so far as been to use a dispersant called Corexit 9500 - which is being sprayed on the water to disperse the oil. Corexit is the same chemical used in the Gulf of Mexico to deal with the oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill.

Unfortunately ‘dispersal’ essentially means never cleaning up the oil. It will just stay out there and continue to pollute the marine environment. The reason being that Corexit acts like a surfactant and attracts the oil. The oil then forms globules and sinks to the bottom.

Some studies have shown that Corexit 9500 is four times as toxic as the oil itself. Both are now going into the ocean water. It’s not a good situation.

As the authorities battle to get the spill under control and mitigate against the worst environmental effects, we also hope that this incident gives the Government pause for thought with regards to it’s deepwater oil drilling plans. This accident is an unfortunate reminder of just how difficult it is to deal with oil spills at sea. It's a slow spill in a relatively accessible place, and the weather and sea conditions have been favourable yet even so, it is testing NZ's response capability to the limits.

It’s shaping up to be a significant disaster but, bad as it is, it will be a walk in the park compared to what would happen if we had a Deepwater Horizon type spill.

Greenpeace has offered Maritime NZ the support of our inflatable boats, experienced drivers and volunteers to assist in the oil clean up and the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre is calling for volunteers to assist in the recovery and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife but as yet there is little anyone can do.

Despite the best intentions, the oil spill response team in Tauranga will not be able to do enough. There is no ‘enough’.

The tools we have to respond to oil spills are orders of magnitude too small to combat the damage they do.

We can’t fix oil spills; we can only prevent them. And we can only prevent the really catastrophic spills by saying no to deep sea oil drilling.


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Friday, October 7, 2011

Ecospree: Can you grow you own bicycle?

Can You Grow Your Own Bicycle?Can You Grow Your Own Bicycle?

By Rhonda Winter via Ecolocalizer  Ecospree

When we speak of “growing” a more sustainable local economy, the term is usually not meant literally; but in the case of an innovative design for a new transport vehicle, we may actually be able to grow our way into a more sustainable future. A beautiful new three-wheeled recumbent bicycle has been created that is constructed from renewable organic materials. The bamboo bike was derived from techniques used in arborsculpture, a more complex form of topiary, which utilizes specifically modified and grafted plants to create shaped structures which are very strong. The process is also known as “grown mobility”.

This award-winning velomobile is known as the “Ajiro”, and was created by student designer Alexander Vittouris. Building this machine involves using sustainable principles to create a transportation vehicle that is almost entirely made of natural biodegradable materials. Using an easily renewable resource like bamboo, with its rapid growth rate (as much as one meter in just a 24 hour period), coupled with its amazing structural integrity, makes this vehicle a very sensible choice. Mr. Vittouris explains a bit about how the recumbent is made:

“In this case, the manipulation and intervention is more akin to a farming process, whereby bamboo plants need time for thorough establishment to form the required energy mass to produce new culms. The vast array of species available also lends such a mobility concept to be locally grown, creating distributed, localized production. For the sake of the research experimentation, Bambusa Oldhamii seems most appropriate for climatic suitability in Australia, and whilst progress has been made in proving its growth and viability, more plant establishment would be necessary.

Embracing a natural process, affords knowledge of a somewhat different kind — products take time to create, they take resources. Growing sections to be used in ones personal mobility teaches that material worth is beyond that of ‘discardability’, ones own efforts, witnessing growth, creates a tangible link to the very history of the product. Growing materials for direct transference to products also indicates other possibilities for maximizing a single materials use, rather than relying on either multiple materials or processes to fulfill criteria.

Possibilities unheard of in conventional production process may allow the opportunity for community farms of vehicles growing once thorough plant establishment has taken place. The Ajiro concept is about rethinking our approach to both design and ecological sustainability of the products we create. Approaches towards sustainable personal mobility will surely be necessary, and growing vehicles may provide that answer.”
Source: EcoLocalizer (


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